ECNext this week announced its Manta business research site is now allowing users to modify its more than 45 million company profiles. ECNext feels that Manta's content will become more robust as a result of about 4 million monthly unique visitors updating the profiles. Company owners and executives are being encouraged to update their own company information.
ECNext hopes to further engage Manta visitors in the future. According to the company, this initiative is the first in a series of new features available on Manta designed to involve visitors in the development and enhancement of the site.
This is a very interesting idea, especially during a time when user-generated content is increasing in popularity. But user-generated content also brings a unique set of problems to the table. First of all, how is ECNext planning to police the data entry conducted by visitors? How will the company ensure that contributed data is accurate data? Second, ECNext doesn't own this information, so essentially they are allowing visitors to edit third-party content. The success of this initiative hinges on ECNext's ability to control the flow of the contributed data. There is certainly the potential to make Manta a more robust source of business information; and if this initiative is successful, Manta will likely become a main source for many business professionals. However, there is a very real risk of creating a service that is anything but reliable. It's worth keeping an eye on.